Monday, March 28, 2016

Submarine Quote of the 1st Quarter (March 2016)


"These defective parts, each probably valued on the order of $10,000 or less, have kept the $2.7 billion attack submarine Minnesota languishing in an overhaul for two years, while engineers attempt to cut out and replace a difficult to reach part near the nuclear reactor. Meanwhile, Navy engineers are scouring aircraft carriers and other submarines for problems and criminal investigators are gathering evidence. .......  The Navy refuses to comment while the investigation grinds on."David Larter, Secret weld: How shoddy parts disabled a $2.7 billion submarine, Navy Times, March 28, 2016.


  • Don't blame the U.S. Navy. At this stage of an open investigation it could be imprudent if even allowed to make factual comments.
  • No, the latent defects, of course, do not relate to the stricken, former USS Miami (SSN-775), which was decommissioned after a Navy shipyard fire had been set by a civilian contractor (May  2012).  After estimated repair costs for the burned out Miami rose from $450 million to $700 million, repairing it would have required cancelling work on several other submarines and surface ships. In the end, the Navy determined that repairing Miami was not considered worth weakening overall fleet readiness. [After repairs Miami ideally would have made up to 10 deployments]. 
  • The faulty and potentially faulty welds at issue are certainly associated with USS Minnesota (SSN-783):
    "Minnesota, the 10th Virginia-class attack boat, was delivered 11 months ahead of schedule. But it has been in the shipyards at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut for two years —  more than twice as long as a normal post-shake- down availability. It still has months to go." [ibid]             
M.E. comment: Consequently the Navy has been forced to delay deploying Minnesota.  Virginia class boats are projected to make14–15 deployments during their 33-year service lives.[54]   At $2.688 billion per sub each deployment missed is valued at $2.688 billion / 15 = $ $ 179,200,000, and crews are already pushed. The weld problem may apply to other subs and ships as well:
  • "The unauthorized parts are impacting three new Virginia-class attack submarines, likely extending the post-shakedown overhauls for the other two subs and adding greatly to the final tab at a time these fearsome vessels are needed around the globe to defend carrier groups and strike America's adversaries." [ibid]
  • The same shoddy elbow joints were installed aboard attack subs North Dakota [(SSN-784)] and John Warner [(SSN-785)], forcing the Navy to spend millions of dollars and many more months to repair them. If these pipes ruptured, they would leak steam and force the submarine to take emergency measures that would impair its combat effectiveness.  .....Nuflo has provided parts for the carrier Theodore Roosevelt's [(CVN-71)] recent mid-life refueling overhaul, as well as for the new carrier Gerald R. Ford [(CVN-78)], according to various news reports. Neither the Nuflo's CEO or spokespersonresponded to repeated calls and emails for comment by March 25.
M.E. comment: Taxpayers certainly hope the civilian responsible for USS Miami's devastating fire as well as the civilian contractor and quality inspectors responsible for USS Minnesota's faulty welds were not involved in acts of espionage.
 Submarines are always silent and strange.

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At 17 August, 2016 09:24, Blogger southron_98 said...

That is all well and good except NNSY has a QA requirement the obsolete MIL-Q-9858 which required them to have control of their sub-contractor. Which means visits, test, whatever is necessary. Then they were required to ensure the product was to certification again by whatever means necessary. They might be blaming NUFLO but would appear to me NUFLO was doing what was an acceptable industry practice when they had repairs. The shipyard visit (if there was one) should have examined NUFLOs manual, operating procedures, they should have ensured NUFLO was aware of any requirement such as deviants or waivers.

At 18 August, 2016 16:05, Blogger Vigilis said...

Your points are well taken.


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